Remember how they marketed the NBA "Dream Team" that represented the US in the 1992 Olympics? Take that, and multiply it in this year's World Baseball Classic. Almost every team in the field has a connection to Major League Baseball, not just the predictable (USA, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, all of whom are loaded with MLB stars), but upstart Israel, who, at last check, was taking it on the chin against the Netherlands (another team with major MLB ties) this morning in Tokyo.
The second round pools have started thus:
In Tokyo: Israel, Netherlands, Cuba, & host Japan.
In San Diego (starting tomorrow): USA, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and either Venezuela or Italy, pending a "tiebreaker" tonight in Jalisco, Mexico. The Mexicans, despite beating Venezuela last night, were eliminated.
The bottom line: Either the Dominicans, the defending champs, repeat, and most think they will, or either the US or Puerto Rico will send them home, setting up a 3rd different champion in this tournament (Japan won the first two in 2006 & 2009).
High school basketball season is winding down for New York's Section II, with just three teams left in state competition. Lake George for the boys, and Shenendehowa & Mekeel Christian Academy for the girls. Mekeel, formerly Schenectady Christian Academy, has been under the radar the last couple of years since they play in Class C. We as fans are being reminded again that once you get to the state tournament, the opposition gets tougher. Lest we forget, Albany Academy for Boys, an independent, may still sneak in the back door and play the Federation tournament next week, looking to repeat as Federation champs.
Despite the snow headed our way early Tuesday morning, Spring is just a week away.
Baseball season in Section II officially begins the first weekend in April after scrimmages are scheduled, assuming they can clear the snow in time, starting next week. Troy High, in their 2nd season in the Suburban Council, has to get off to a better start. To that end, they will play a non-league game, set for April 1, vs. Bethlehem, before a league game takes place three weeks later. The fun part? Both games are at home. The other non-league games for Troy this season have them at Amsterdam (Foothills Council) on April 8, at Ichabod Crane (Colonial Council) on April 15, and city rival LaSalle will provide the Senior Day opposition on Monday, May 15. By then, Troy will have had an idea about sectional chances. The softball team will scrimmage Lansingburgh, then visit the Lady Knights in April for a regular season tilt.
While there are lights at Ed Picken Memorial Field (football/soccer/lacrosse/outdoor track), that is not the case for the neighboring tennis courts and baseball & softball diamonds. If the baseball program was more successful than it has been in recent years, I'd think there'd be a call to add lights on the far end of the sports complex on the Van Arnam campus. Just sayin'.